I’m a big fan of paying the people who make things for me.

But digital piracy is the only thing keeping archive copies of obscure media around today. Even libraries aren’t keeping up. Plenty of media creators have revived their thing that found an audience after decades forgotten - through piracy, and only successfully revived it thanks to archivist pirates, since they had thrown that thing away.

It’s not black and white.

Patronage funding, early access, streamlined delivery, and white glove support are the funding models that are working for creatives today.

favrion, avatar

That’s even worse. Stealing from small creators. I don’t see how active archiving relates to piracy, nor its connection to fan service.


You got that from my post? I no longer think you’re engaging in a meaningful discussion here.

bbmb avatar

The Internet Archive, even outside of their Wayback Machine, is effectively built on digital piracy in many ways if anything. The reality is that any sort of media, whether it's physical media that was destroyed, or digital media that was deleted or had it's host platform shut down, could possibly never be accessed again unless it's archived, even if that archival was done with piracy.

Mother 3 could be considered impossible to play legally in many ways, with most of the cartridges being sold unofficially with the English ROM hack being preapplied, and the originals starting near 75 dollars on eBay, and Nintendo isn't making any money off it anymore, so in many cases unless you're a collector, it's best to just pirate the game with an English ROM translation.

The Internet Archive also has an archived online library of books that you're free to borrow from, similar to an Overdrive-like platform of sorts, which is great for finding information that isn't publicly available, or to read a book that is simply rare used and not sold anymore or where another copy isn't to be found.

favrion, avatar

I don’t see the comparison. Archiving is beneficial for the freedom of information, but pirating is beneficial for the pirate.

bbmb avatar

What I just said was that archiving for preservation often is done with piracy. You need to get the content one way or another to archive, especially with the vast library on there.

favrion, avatar

Yes, you pay the author.


Which is sometimes not even an option offered and sometimes licencing rules will mean that no matter how many people pay for it, it’s going to be lost to the world without piracy.

Btw, it’s cute that you think it’s the author you’re supporting, rather than the exploitative and greedy publisher. Downright adorable! 🥹


Archiving digital media is making backups and copies. That is what archiving those things is intrinsically, immutably.

Making backups and copies is also what the IP owners would refer to as piracy.

You cannot be pro-internet-archive and anti-piracy at the same time, at least not fully. They are contradictory positions.


speaking of libraries, there is also a need for archiving knowledge and information for the public good, such as books and research articles. Especially the latter are usually created and, many times, already paid for by the researchers themselves (often via tax money), many of whom would prefer to have their research disseminated.

In the global north, many universities can afford such high-priced publisher premium. But in the global south, and many underfunded universities, hospitals, schools in general, such prices are impossible. So in practicality, they turn to piracy for the most part.


Shop local, steal from corporate.

No you shouldn’t steal from small or independent creators. However don’t try to tell me that Disney is going to go out of business because I pirated their latest movie.

ttmrichter, avatar

… don’t try to tell me that Disney is going to go out of business because I pirated their latest movie …

Well, not yet, but give us time! They’re huge! It’s really hard to take them down!


don’t try to tell me that Disney is going to go out of business because I pirated their latest movie

The problem is the antisocial behavior and externalities. Piracy has a negative externality on society, it lets you consume a product you didn’t contribute to production whatsoever. If it becomes commonplace then yes, Disney will go bankrupt, but will every producer, small or big or anything in between.

Rules shouldn’t be arbitrary. People work at Disney too, and you’ll have less artist, animator and stuff, all paid less, it the market shrinks because of piracy

RIP_Cheems, avatar

And I agree. However, when youtube decides to make you watch an ad every 2 minutes, you stop caring

StarServal avatar

Theft has a very strict legal definition. Piracy is not legally theft. It is legally infringement, a separate crime. Conflating one with the other is propaganda by the largest IP holders.

These largest IP holders want nothing more than to lock up all culture and rent it back to you for a price, indefinitely. They would happily steal from you without a moment’s hesitation. In fact, they have stolen from you. They’ve successfully extended copyright terms to an absurd length, preventing works from entering the public domain for decades.

Many of these IP holders also don’t care about preservation. They’ll happily let their works be lost to history. Some are actively fighting against preservation.

Is it immoral to infringe? Yes. But IP holders don’t have the moral highground. They’re just as bad, if not worse. (I’m talking about the multi billion dollar companies here, not the small business persons struggling to get by)


Piracy does not steal from the directors and creators, but from the distributors whose have already bought the rights. The distributors who attempt to create artificial scarcity, excessively monetize your attention, and in generally act hostile to their consumers. There used to be a pact between distributors extracting money from consumers while leaving the content in a desirable state, but greed ruined that. I don’t mind some ads, but we’re way beyond reasonable. I don’t mind phased rollouts, but actively preventing people from watching just because of their location? I don’t mind things not being shown, but the whole concept of stoking FoMO “before it goes into the vault for next generation”, is just wrong. I don’t mind attempts to copy protect, but paying your politicians to turn a civil matter into criminal and use govt resources to protect your artificial scarcity is just so wrong.

I prefer not to pirate. I used to think policy was wrong when there was some balance between distributors and consumers. However greed ruined that. Greed made distributors take and take. It is not wrong to steal from such corrupt unethical businesses. They’re not worthy of respect


steals the rightful intellectual property of directors and developers

Software piracy from an independent or small studio, maybe.

Movie piracy? Everyone working on the film got paid for their work. What you’re ‘stealing’ is the profits from a megacorp that’s making more money year-on-year than ever before while still paying those in the industry terribly because they can.

Your hot take is a bit flawed.

NENathaniel, avatar

As a general rule I actually agree, even if it’s a bit complicated and not black & white

moonsnotreal, avatar

Against indie devs yes, against Ubisoft and EA no.

theKalash, (edited )

Have an upvote!

You are wrong of course and “intellectual property” is a bullshit concept. Owning information is what is immoral. It’s also no stealing as you’re making a copy and not taking anything away.

I’d rather spend another $1000 on harddrives than give a single cent to streaming services or filmstudios.


If the money actually went to the people that made the content then there would be an argument, but it doesn’t, it goes to a bunch of assholes who conned the actual content creators from their hard work.

Vuipes avatar

I can't get most of the content legally. What is my option?
When my friend wanted to watch “Breaking bad” a few years ago, he subscribed to a streaming service, it had only the second and third season. He paid for it, but piracy is the only option for him.
Even if you are in the USA, 87% of video games before 2010 are currently impossible to buy.


So on a morality point of view, I've downloaded epubs of books of an author where I've previously bought copies of their books multiple times, either because the originals wore out or I gave a copy away. I still have copies on my shelf or in storage, I just want to have copies on my Kindle.

I've bought things (or had bought for me) things on VHS and DVD formats and no longer have a player for either. So yeah I downloaded stuff I wanted to watch again

There are things only available on DVD and not available to stream. There are things that were available to stream which have since been removed and have been taken down. Why not pirate stuff to watch it again?

For a long time the Beatles weren't on Spotify etc. I had their stuff on their official paid for tapes growing up, then on CD when I was older. So in the interim I pirated it when I lost the original digital rips I made from the CDs. And until they release their mono albums officially I'll be hanging on to my pirated copies.

Notice a trend in the above? I very rarely pirate new media. But I treat the internet like an archive (I've not even gone into the stuff that is no longer available anywhere except YouTube or piracy). Quite often I've paid the creator('s masters) more than once for their work. I feel no guilt.


I see it as a “try before you buy”.

As a consumer, I have a right to know what I am buying. I shouldn’t have to pay to see a movie, watch it and then find out that I didn’t like it.

If I pirate music or TV/film and really like it, I will absolutely then pay for the album or the DVD and I have the CD/DVD collection to prove it.

As some other people have mentioned, there is the awkward situation where a DVD may not be available in your region or a CD is out of print etc. There is some music and TV that I’d love to own my own legal copy of, but it’s logistically impossible and it’s unfortunate that the only way to consume that media isn’t legal.

glad_cat, (edited )

First, piracy is not illegal everywhere, and a personal copy is the most legal way in almost every country to archive what you have bought.

As for the morality of it, it’s your problem, not mine.

And the most important question is: What can I do when whole countries do not sell their music or TV shows? I’m thinking of Poland or Japan for example. I cannot legally buy media from those countries because they don’t care about foreign customers. How can they lose money if they don’t sell anything?

If you want a concrete example that happened to me yesterday: I want to buy a subscription to I want to give my money yet they refuse it. What can I do?


People pirate for different reasons, and the legal definition of it changes nothing really. There’s…

  • People who will absolutely not ever pay for anything
  • People who will pay as long as they get their money’s worth, who may also be open to supporting the creator directly (Patreon, Nebula, Bandcamp, Floatplane, Liberapay etc.)
  • Preserving content in a usable format (e.g. vinyl record plastic breaking down, old 8track players becoming uneconomical to repair and rare to find, playstation magazine CDs that will never be available online despite being susceptible to CD rot)

I’m in the last two camps personally. I wanted to also share my opinions on the points you mentioned directly…

It is illegal and immoral

I think It is illegal and immoral to sell consumers a license to use a product, under the guise of them owning it without explicitly and clearly stating such at the point of purchase, i.e. consumer electronics where you may “own” the device but only have a license to use the operating system, digital game purchases on consoles which can be revoked at any time by Sony/Microsoft or the publisher, services like Amazon Prime Video where a digital box set you purchased (that can only be watched via Amazon’s website) can be deleted by Amazon at any time, leaving you no recourse.

It steals the rightful intellectual property of directors

In my opinion, it should not be right for directors at the likes of UMG to profit from music made by artists who have died.

and developers who are only trying to make a living

The developers do not make anywhere near as much money as they should for their efforts, and quite frankly they are going to get paid regardless of whether you as an individual decide to purchase or pass on a product.

If you want to be a thief so badly, then rob a federal bank.

IMO the people in the first camp probably aren’t interested in money if they have chosen not to purchase their media to begin with

I’m curious as to the reason behind the post though, has someone pirated your content before?

favrion, avatar

Thank you for an actual intellectual rebuttal. This may actually make me reconsider the morality aspect, but it is still outside of my moral bounds and therefore I can never condone it.

This started because of a post that I saw about a big piracy community being shut down.


Defederated from another popular instance, not shut down. is still there, just not viewable through your instance where your account is.


People who will pay as long as they get their money’s worth, who may also be open to supporting the creator directly

The point is, isn’t the producer right to make the price? You can always not consume what they produce. This category is the most obnoxious; would you ever go to a restaurant and expect to decide the prices?

It’s the very same argument for producers that willingly release their contently freely and let you support them, eventually. It’s their choice.

Of the three you quoted preservation is the only one I find acceptable. If the producer no longer care to distribute their product, then they probably don’t care to what it happens to it either.

I think It is illegal and immoral to sell consumers a license to use a product, under the guise of them owning it

For me the main difference is that nobody is forcing you to accept the transaction. I could accept this kind of argument for drugs for example, where you either take it or die/have serious repercussions. But pirating a movie you would have very much lived without just because is easy to do so it’s particularly problematic.

they are going to get paid regardless of whether you as an individual decide to purchase or pass on a product

Except they aren’t. Or at least, of course they’re payed the same, at the moment. But in our economy prices are signals. If a market will appear smaller then it is because of piracy then after some timesfewer developers will be hired, and each of them will be payed less because you’re “falsifying” the signals. Or even worst, the producers will start to use alternative form of monetization. That’s one of the reason the modern web is based off ads or free-to-play games with microtransanctions are so damn common.

IMO the people in the first camp probably aren’t interested in money if they have chosen not to purchase their media to begin with

The people in the first category should also think about the allocation problem. Those products which they like to consume but not pay for, still had a cost of production. The problem is they want ti consume, without supporting production, and that’s not gonna work for a society.

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